Commissioners Court hears report on updating major thoroughfare plan

BGE Engineer Megan Siercks speaking to Commissioners Court during their October 13 meeting.

Montgomery County Commissioners received a report from Brown and Gay Engineering Firm, on updating the major thoroughfare plan for the County. The report was given during the regular meeting of Commissioners Court on October 13.

“If you recall, four years ago, you worked with HGAC (Houston Galveston Area Council), and you developed a county-wide plan that looked at where major thoroughfares need to be, accounted for and addressed,” BGE Engineer Megan Siercks told Commissioners. “Your County is growing though, and things are changing and evolving, and with that this plan needs to evolve.”

Siercks told the Court that BGE is going to start getting data collected.

“We’re going to look for planned projects, but one of the big things we’re going to do is hold our stakeholder meetings. These are held by precinct with each of you, and a core group of people who you want involved to have input into your specific precinct,” said Siercks. “With that information we’ll start taking a stab at revising things. We’re also going to work with Tx-DOT and HGAC because this is not a vacuum activity.”

Siercks told Commissioners BGE is going to work with the 2040 projections.

“We’re going to take that information and make sure any changes we’re making really benefit the County. It doesn’t do us any good to put us into a bind in ten years or in five years,” said Siercks. “With that we’re going to look through the timing of the alternatives, and we’re going to separate them into short, mid and long-term projects. That way you will have something to work off of and a plan to work towards.”

Siercks said the stakeholder meetings will be used to present the goals and objectives, as well as gather the input they need.

“We’d like to start these meetings as soon as we can. I realize we’re halfway through October, so realistically, it will probably be November. We will ask for each of you to provide us your list and some dates that will probably work for your precinct,” said Siercks.

Siercks told the Court BGE is working on a project update meeting to be held in Commissioners Court at the end of January or early February, depending on when the stakeholder meetings will be held. Siercks added that once the project meeting is held, they’ll start holding public meetings to get input from the public.

“We’ll have two public meetings; ideally they’d be in person, but with the nature of COVID-19, we are prepared to move those virtually if we need to,” said Siercks. “We’ve had some success having a virtual public meeting with our Precinct 4 mobility study. I think that went well, so we could replicate that if we’re unable to hold them in person. We plan on having the two public meetings held in Precincts 1 and 3. That’s primarily because of the two ongoing Precinct studies for 4 and 2, having their own set of public meetings. We have the ability to capitalize on the meetings that are being held as part of Precinct 4, to address any thoroughfare updates that need to occur in that specific Precinct. Then, Commissioner Riley (Precinct 2), we’ll work with you and your team on the HGAC study that you’re doing to try and capitalize on those public meetings as well.”

Siercks told the Court that BGE does have the ability to add more meetings if needed, and that can be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

“I think we need to add one in Precinct 2 with our HGAC study. I think that would be good to have those combined,” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley.

Siercks told Riley that’s exactly what BGE was thinking and anticipating.

“They’re too close together, and work too close hand-in-hand to isolate them. That’s what we’re doing with Precinct 4 studies as well, as part of their mobility study is capitalizing on that togetherness,” said Siercks.

Siercks said all of this goes to working towards their final presentation, that they’re aiming to have done next summer.

“We will bring forth a revised plan, and ask Commissioners Court to adopt it. That would be your major thoroughfare update at that point, said Siercks. “What’s next?” I need each of you to provide me with your stakeholder groups. I’m looking for ten to 15 people who you think will add value, and have opinions that you need to incorporate into the changes specific to your precinct.”

Siercks then said that she is going to reach out to each of the Commissioners’ staff to look for dates that would work for the meeting.

“We’re going to start gathering that information that I talked about, those planned projects, and we’re going to hit the ground running,” and we’re going to see what we can do to get this updated for you,” said Siercks.

Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack said he’s excited about the plan.

“I know Brown and Gay Engineering does a terrific job. As an engineering firm, you all probably know more about mobility in Montgomery County than just about anyone,” said Commissioner Noack.

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough.

“I think this is huge. I especially like that you have involved the stakeholders, you have involved the citizens in this, you’ve involved HGAC, Tx-DOT; all the necessary people for a comprehensive plan,” said Keough. “I will not forget what Commissioner Meador (Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador) said when we talked about this originally, that we’ve been needing this, just like this, for a long time. With the addition of what Commissioner Riley has just said, this is excellent.”

Judge Keough did ask if it was possible to get the plan together by next summer.

“If I can get the cooperation from the Court, I think so,” said Siercks.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley.

“With what we’re doing and I know what Commissioner Metts (Precinct 4 Commissioner James Metts) is doing, there’s a lot of information there already,” said Riley.

Siercks agreed.

“Absolutely, that’s exactly it. We’re not rewriting the history here; we’re not rebuilding or reinventing the wheel. We’re taking what you already have and we’re modifying it to suit the needs of the County,” said Siercks. With that, I’m confident we can keep this schedule. I will need just to get our meetings going, and once we do that, we’ll be ready to keep it moving.”

To look at the 2016 thoroughfare plan for Montgomery County through HGAC, click on the link below:

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